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Despite going on vacation and riding most of the way there and back, I still didn’t read as much as I did in May this past month! Granted, We Are Not Ourselves took a loooong time to finish. And, well, real life. Kids. Crazy. Work.
Here’s what I finished in June.
Lament and Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater – After reading The Raven Boys, I might have developed a slight obsession with Maggie Stiefvater’s books. Especially because in Lament, the characters go to Carytown in my hometown of Richmond, VA. Then I researched and found out Maggie and I are pretty much the same age and she went to Mary Washington College, where my sister went and I applied. So funny.
Her fantasy books are pretty far from my normal reading, but she is such a good writer that they suck me right in. I can’t help it. I love the whimsy, the weirdness, the teen romance. These two about faeries are really interesting and like nothing I’ve read before. Sadly, the third book in the series has never been put to press. Maybe someday!
The Here and Now is Ann Brashares’ attempt at the dystopian YA genre with a dose of time travel. In it, Prenna has traveled back in time with a group of others from the future to try to save the world from a virus that’s killed many people. But it seems like everyone’s just forgotten about the reason and focused on the rules. Prenna makes trouble. She is rescued by present-time Ethan. Etc.
Sorry. Brashares is so good with words but this storyline fell flat for me (and most others, from what I can glean from GoodReads). I just didn’t feel invested in the main characters or their journey.
We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas – I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, despite its numerous accolades in 2014. Thomas’s first novel is a saga centering around Eileen. Raised with every marker for being unable to raise herself from her circumstances (Irish immigrant parents, alcoholism, etc), Eileen has laser vision for a future unlike the one she grew up in. When she meets Ed, a young scholar with a bright brain, she lets herself fall in love and thinks she’s got it made.
I read the first 175 pages of this book very slowly, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep going. I put it down and read another book or two before picking it back up and assessing. And then it got interesting. As their marriage grows, Eileen and Ed face troubles and a looming disease. A poignant look at living with someone through darkness, I think We Are Not Ourselves is well worth the long read. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, so I will leave it at that.
Anchored by Kayla Aimee – It’s been a pleasure to be part of the launch team for Anchored, the first book from my friend Kayla. Her story of battling for the life of her micropreemie daughter while also fighting for faith is compelling for anyone and I think it will be the book to recommend for any mom with a NICU baby especially. You can still enter to win a copy here and see some more of my thoughts.
I didn’t ADORE Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. (How much do I love that her Twitter handle is @pronounced_ing??) But it was a really interesting read. Lydia is dead. (Not a spoiler – that’s the first line.) The 16-year-old was raised by a Chinese-American father and a Caucasian mother in the 60s and 70s. Pushed by her father to succeed socially and her mother to pursue the sciences, Lydia’s story is a whirlwind of pressure. But of course, all is not as it seems. This family history is succinct yet fascinating, and obviously Ng feels that tension of growing up looking “different.”
I almost wish that we hadn’t learned Lydia’s side of the story and it was just left to the observations of others, but then again I might have been disappointed had we not discovered the truth. All in all, a really good book that’s won multiple awards and continually has high ratings.
The Ship of Brides by JoJo Moyes – After the raging popularity of Moyes’s newer novels in the States, her older ones have been released in America. The Ship of Brides is one of these, originally published in 2005 in the UK.
All of the blurbs describe this book as “romantic.” So I was expecting a little more romance. The story itself is fascinating. Moyes tells a fictionalized tale based on a real one: how, after World War II ended, hundreds of war brides were shipped on an aircraft carrier from Australia to England. (Moyses’s grandmother was one of the actual brides!) In this tale, we learn of four young brides who share a cabin on the carrier: Margaret, a motherless farm girl; Avice, used to high society and expecting the Queen Mary; Jean, a clueless 16-year-old; and Frances, a near-silent nurse. Although we see some flashbacks, I found there to be only a little romance and a lot about frenzied women, obviously in emotional turmoil, unused to being at sea. I liked how Moyes framed the book, and I thought the ending was very good. It’s no Me Before You – but it’s well worth the read, especially if you liked The Girl You Left Behind.
So that’s what I finished in June. What have you been reading lately?